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January 9, 1991: Bruce Smith Named Defensive Player Of The Year

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Bruce Smith took his next step from being great to really great on this date in 1991 when he won the first of his two NFL Defensive Player of the Year Awards.

Smith had the best season of his career in 1990 tallying 19 sacks, forcing four fumbles, and recording 101 tackles despite playing a 3-4 defensive end position that was not exactly suited for any of those statistics.

His 19 sacks, while the most in a single season in his career, was second to Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas in 1990. Thomas' 20 sacks still ranks sixth all-time while Smith's 19.0 are ninth-best. Despite being out-sacked by Thomas, Smith's constant play disruption and gaudy tackle numbers earned him the award.

Smith tallied sacks in ten games in 1990. Seven times he tallied two or more sacks and left a lasting impression on voters' minds in Week 13 totaling four sacks against the Indianapolis Colts.

In addition to being the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year, Smith was named to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams for the third time in four years.

Smith helped the Bills achieve their 13-3 record in 1990 and the number one seed in the AFC. They would use it to their advantage picking up a win over the 13-4 Miami Dolphins in the divisional round on January 12th.